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algarve pro racing

Algarve Pro Racing: 24 Hours of Le Mans six-hour update

Algarve Pro Racing Team surged from the tail end of the LMP2 field to the top eight by deploying Andrea Pizzitola’s raw speed and a clever strategy during the first quarter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

On Wednesday (12 June), a mix of bright sunshine and heavy rainfall made for an unpredictable FP1 session, which was truncated further by a lengthy red-flag stoppage;

Algarve Pro cycled through all three of its drivers during the four-hour session, providing each with useful experience in changeable conditions before entering the first part of Qualifying-Practice, held as the sun set over Circuit de la Sarthe;

The core objective was for Andrea Pizzitola, John Falb and David Zollinger to complete their five mandatory night laps;

A 3m29.126s set by Pizzitola was ultimately good enough for tenth in the LMP2 classification, but it was a momentous session for Falb, as the Las Vegas racer successfully completed his first night drive at Le Mans;

In Qualifying-Practice 2 on Thursday (13 June), Pizzitola dipped into the 3m28s and that was enough for ninth in the definitive classification;

France’s David Zollinger had his stint interrupted by a Full Course Yellow (FCY) but grew in confidence and continually improved his lap times, comfortable with the balance of the #25 ORECA;

It was felt the fastest times that would ultimately determine the starting order for the race would come in the cooler evening temperatures of Qualifying-Practice 3;

There was a raft of improvements up and down the field and, with Pizzitola managing a 3m28.803s, Algarve Pro Racing would start its fourth Le Mans from 16th in class;

The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans got underway at the traditional 15:00 start time on warm and sunny Saturday (15 June) afternoon;

Reigning European Le Mans Series (ELMS) Champion Pizzitola kept his nose clean and maintained 16th on the opening lap, but was soon past Cetilar Villorba Corse’s Giorgio Sernagiotto for 15th;

Algarve Pro Racing pulled the #25 ORECA in for an early fuel refill at the end of lap six, taking it out of sync with its LMP2 rivals’ pit stops;

An empty pit lane and placing Pizzitola in clean air resulted in a net gain to 14th position, within reach of the top ten;

Treating his opening quadruple stint like a sprint, Pizzitola cleared Panis Barthez Competition’s Will Stevens, High Class Racing’s Anders Fjordbach and United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque to break into the top ten before the end of the first hour;

Pizzitola benefited from fresh tyres mid-way through his run and climbed to eighth before losing out to ex-Formula 1 driver Paul di Resta in the #22 United Autosports entry;

The final stages of Pizzitola’s stint were spent under the rear wing of Matias Beche’s High Class Racing ORECA as part of a four-car train led by Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Jordan King;

Falb picked up the baton on lap 37 and spent much of his run in 14th, building his speed over the course of his stint;

The American was one of the quickest Am drivers in the field during the latter phase of his run and was catching the 13th-placed runner at a rate of knots;

During the fifth hour, Zollinger made his first race appearance for Algarve Pro Racing, picking up from where Falb left off by continuing to reduce the gap to those ahead of him;

A Safety Car deployment prompted Algarve Pro Racing to carry out a tyre-change, minimising the time-loss and keeping the team one stop ahead of most of its LMP2 rivals.

Andrea Pizzitola (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07 LMP2): “I’m really happy with how my stint went. I wasn’t really running it like an endurance race, but more like a sprint, but the Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07 allowed me to do that. The car was very good and my job will always be to push really hard and gain track position to try to get to the front of LMP2.”

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